Cincinnati Enquirer Op-Ed: Fix Forfeiture Laws in Buckeye State

Jason Pye, director of communications and justice reform at FreedomWorks, penned an op-ed in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer that calls on the Buckeye State to reform its civil asset forfeiture laws.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Ohio’s civil asset forfeiture laws aren’t much better. Like federal forfeiture laws, cash or property can be subject to forfeiture based on a very low standard of evidence and the burden of proof falls on the property owner. Law enforcement has an incentive to seize property because it can keep up to 100 percent of the proceeds.

Legislation has been introduced to fix forfeiture in Ohio. House Bill 347, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Robert McColley, would restore due process in the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, requiring a criminal conviction – that is, proof beyond a reasonable doubt – before seized cash or property can be subject to forfeiture. The bill also addresses circumvention of protections for innocent property owners in state law by prohibiting forfeiture of seized cash or property through federal forfeiture law unless the value exceeds $50,000.

Contrary to what opponents of House Bill 347 may say, it doesn’t prevent seizure and it doesn’t affect policing. It merely requires that a criminal conviction be obtained in court before property can be subject to forfeiture.

Importantly, the centerpiece of House Bill 347 has significant support from Ohio voters. According a recent survey, 90 percent – including 92 percent of self-identified Republicans – believe a criminal conviction should be a prerequisite to forfeiture. Only 7 percent of respondents support the status quo.

Read Jason Pye’s full piece here.